Union Minister of Information and Broadcast Prakash Javadekar called for the formation of a regulatory body, an organisation like Press Council of India, for news portals. “News portals are just like regular newspapers online. But, these news portals have no Press Council [of India]. There should be something like that for them [news portals] too,” the minister said at the seminar on film certification and regulation of online content, held in Mumbai on October 10.

Javadekar also said that over the top (OTT) platforms currently have no regulation. “They [OTT platforms] do fall under the IT Act, but have no government or self regulation. This happens nowhere in the world,” said the minister. Creators of films and documentaries on OTT platforms make all kinds of content – good, bad and obscene, he said, before adding, “but OTT platforms have no censor board”.

Javadekar wasn’t physically present at the venue and made his comments via a video conference.

“There’s a need to think about regulating OTT because concerns are being raised by certain sections of the society,” said Amit Khare, Secretary, Ministry of Information and Broadcast. However, he did say that “we are not imposing anything [regulation] from our side at this moment”. Echoing Javadekar’s thoughts on the creation of a regulatory body for news portals, he said that “if something is published in a newspaper, you can approach the Press Council, but it is not the same for newspaper.com”.

Khare noted that in all commonwealth countries, there are bodies that regulate content in films, newspapers and TV, however, there is no such provision for regulating content on “OTT or the internet”.